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In a deal that brings the three biggest stars of the 2010 NBA free agent class under one roof, CAA Sports has hired veteran agent Henry Thomas, who counts Miami Heat guard Dwyane Wade and Toronto Raptors forward Chris Bosh among his clients.
CAA basketball agent Leon Rose already represents Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James. Wade, Bosh and James will all be free agents in 2010, if none of them extend their deals with their current teams before then, and moves by one or more of the stars could change the fortunes of NBA teams.
The deal to bring Thomas and his clients — who also include NBA players Devin Harris, Michael Finley, Anthony Parker, Ronnie Brewer, Udonis Haslem and Shaun Livingston — to CAA has been rumored for weeks, but was just completed last week, said Howard Nuchow, co-head of CAA Sports. Nuchow would not reveal any financial details or terms of the deal.
The deal to bring Thomas to CAA developed after months of talks between Rose and Thomas, who have known each other for years, and then CAA and Thomas and Thomas’ former employer CSMG.
Thomas was the last major agent to work at Chicago-based CSMG. Octagon acquired the baseball, broadcasting, coaches and marketing divisions of Chicago-based CSMG in October of last year.
Thomas called it a great move for himself, his staff and his clients. CAA offers clients more opportunities, from entertainment to marketing to business opportunities, Thomas said.
CAA, which launched its sports division in April 2006 by acquiring the practices of former IMG football agent Tom Condon and former IMG baseball agent Casey Close, has grown to be the largest agency representing American team sport talent through a number of add-on acquisitions. Nuchow last week indicated that Thomas may not be the last significant sports agent to join CAA.
Nuchow called Thomas “a great agent” and “a great guy” who he believes will fit into CAA’s culture of collaboration of teams of agents representing clients.
Nuchow would not comment on the impact of one company representing the top three free agents of 2010, except to say, “We are thrilled to be at the center of the information flow, having three of the biggest free agents of that class.”
But there have been a lot of questions raised in recent weeks, especially after the NBA sent a memo to teams in early July projecting steep declines in both the salary cap and luxury tax thresholds for the 2010-11 season, about how much change that free agent season may end up bringing to the NBA.
David Falk, the most powerful basketball agent in the 1990s, who now runs a small boutique firm, said the “hysteria” over the 2010 NBA free agent class is overblown. After it is over, Falk says, “People will look back and say, ‘What was the big deal?’”
Under the CBA, NBA players can make more money staying with their old team, Falk noted, adding that if the salary cap goes down in 2010, it may behoove players to make deals before that happens. “I think the economics will dictate that most free agents stay with their old teams.”
Thomas would not comment on whether Wade or Bosh would change teams or what the effect of the NBA’s projection of a salary cap decline in 2010. But he said, “Those are projections right now and whether or not the salary cap goes down to the extent the NBA is projecting, time will tell. With all the guys that will be free agents, financial considerations will play a big part of their decision, but that will not be the only basis for their decision.”
Liz Mullen can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.